Sri Lanka is also known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. From my recent trip there I can certainly see why. I flew out for two weeks of being a tourist and touring around the country, immersing myself in the rich culture it has to offer. What a country. Immediately I was wishing I had taken my bike as Sri Lanka seemed like the ideal place to cycle.
I have never been to a country so green. Everything was so vibrant and full of life. It is easy to understand how Sri Lanka has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. It is an amazing place to get lost in because you will see some wonderful things. There are many elephant, bird and turtle sanctuaries and it is clear that the country cares about protecting the vast amount of life it is home to.
As it is a relatively new country free from conflict and colonization, I was totally oblivious of what to expect. I certainly got a shock. I have never been to a country where the people are so friendly, always waving; always smiling. Everyone is glad to see and help you. I was shocked when I learned of the harsh past many of its population have endured, civil war and the Asian tsunami of 2004. Whilst being driven along the coast, even in 2012, it was clear how much of an impact the tsunami had on the country. Countless houses boarded up or partially demolished, they had just been left for nature to reclaim. I started to think why this was but then it hit me. The inhabitants more than likely had been killed during the tsunami, as it claimed the lives of over 35,000 people on the island. The remains of their houses left untouched, as a reminder of what had happened and the grief the country had gone through.
However despite a difficult past the country is definitely recovering and has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This combined with the beauty of the scenic roads has led me to believe that Sri Lanka is the ideal place for a bike tour. There are very few large cars occupying the roads, everyone is on a Hero bicycle, motorbike or in a Tuk Tuk, meaning peaceful empty roads.
Although I wouldn’t recommend rough camping in Sri Lanka as it may not be safe at times in remote places with the wealth of wildlife present. However there is a growing abundance of hotels in the country, both cheap and expensive, which are booming with the increasing amounts of tourism. Even in the more mountainous regions I have stayed in hotels, all parts of this island are accessible! I was blown away by the culture and how pretty the country is; I certainly think it is a wonderful country to visit. There is just so much to learn and do, on the bike and off.